Remarks
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
November 13, 2013


SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. My great pleasure to welcome the Foreign Minister of Panama to the State Department and to the United States. He’s been having meetings for the last couple of days, and I’m happy to be able to meet with him, actually, for the first time. We are both looking forward to the visit of Vice President Biden to Panama in a few days – next week – and we are particularly grateful to Panama for its work with us on a number of important issues.

First of all, I want to thank Panama for recently establishing diplomatic relations with Kosovo, a very important step. We are particularly grateful to Panama for its cooperation on Syria chemical weapons. They’ve been important and supportive of that. We have also worked together closely on the issue of how to destroy some old World War II chemical weapons munitions that are on San Jose Island, and we’re working on that issue as well as cooperating on counter-narcotics initiatives.

So we have a lot of cooperative efforts with Panama, obviously a critical nation in terms of both its interests, its values, our work we do together, as well as its location – their very important interdiction of a North Korean ship with illicit cargo. Panama has been working hard to do the job, get the job done, and to be a cooperative partner, and we’re very grateful for that.

And as we look towards 2014, there are elections coming up in Panama. We obviously support their efforts to have a democratic process that people will know is accountable and transparent, and we are appreciative for all of their efforts. They’re a great partner and we’re happy to have them here to talk through some of these issues.

Welcome.

FOREIGN MINISTER NUNEZ FABREGA: Thank you very much. Well, I’m glad to be here. We’ve had a longstanding relationship with the United States. It has evolved after the transfer of the canal into a mutually rewarding relationship where we have the same goals and we have the same ideas on how to get and meet those goals. I think it’s important that we have a very good bilateral agenda that we have to run through, and of course, one of the major things is the visit of Vice President Biden, which will be arriving in Panama on the 18th at night, and we expect to show him the new locks of the new canal. And we continue to support all of the initiatives that jointly we have developed throughout these years, and I’m glad to be here.

SECRETARY KERRY: We’re happy to have you.

FOREIGN MINISTER NUNEZ FABREGA: Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Welcome. Thank you. We’re going to go have a conversation. Thank you. Thank you very much.



PRN: 2013/1398